WHAT IS SOUCHAM?
Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
Before we consider the question raised in the title, we have to look into certain matters. That is whether our nation has advanced in civilisation in the last hundred years.
The beginning of everything is bodily purity. Before hundred years there was not even one in a hundred persons, who did not clean himself after passing urine and stools with soil and water. Now the situation is that not even one in a hundred cleans that way. We should consider properly whether this is advance of humanity or animalism.
Many of us think that the whites are cleaner than us and that we shall follow their method of cleanliness. They have devised certain expensive methods of cleanliness with funds obtained through coercing and ruling over other countries. That method is also mere superficial show. If we go deeply, it is all very dirty. Though dirty, if we adopt that method, we will incur huge expenses. We, who are short of food and water, have abandoned the simple and clean hand- practice handed to us by our Maharishis, looked up at ‘glass fruit’ and got the name that Hindus are very ignorant people, by being neither here nor there.
If we understand well the rules prescribed by our Manu and others, spread that knowledge among all and adopt those practices, the dirt seen in our streets and on the banks of rivers and ponds, and the ignominy hurled at us by newspapers like Mail will disappear.
Even the white experts, who came to examine our ancient practices of construction of towns and villages, have generally opined that the kind of practices adopted here, suited to comfortable living and good health are not seen in any other country. In respect of bodily cleanliness, looking at the indecent practices followed now by our people, they criticise that nowhere in the world are people so uncivilised.
What is Soucham? Soucham is the quality of one who is ‘suchi’ or the method of becoming ‘suchi’. One who is pure outside and inside is called ‘suchi’ and also ‘puta’, ‘pavitra’ and ‘medhya’.
While performing any Vedic karma, dvijas should maintain inner and outer purity right from beginning of karma till Brahmarpanam (surrendering the karma to Brahman at the end of karma). At the beginning of each karma, Aachamanam should be performed to keep inner purity. Karma should be performed, wearing clean clothes, pavitram (made of darbha) in the finger and clean yagnopavita. All karmas should be performed only after performing Sandhyavandanam; this is emphasised in Smriti.
Though we may be determined mentally to retain inner and outer purity, we should do Aachamanam to counter any subtle impurity that has occurred or might occur and begin the karma with thought of Iswara.
At the beginning of sankalpa of karma, we chant the mantra:
The great Manu and the Mahayogiswara Yagnavalkya have said that Guru, after completing the upanayana samskara for the disciple, should first teach him the methods of Soucham (purification), followed by practices like Snanam, Aachamanam etc. and Samidadhanam in morning and evening and Sandhyavandanam three times a day etc. When a pure person sees an impure one, he develops disgust. One who is impure catches a serious disease called ‘Arochakam’ (meaning loss of shine, appetite; causing disgust etc.). One who is impure should be called a crow or ‘Huna’ (barbarian).
The 12 impurities arising in our body are:
Great men like Srimad Madhusudana Saraswati have written in detail in a manner clear even to ordinary people about Soucham. Further, in Manusmriti, while talking about the duty of protecting women, he says in the 9th chapter that women can never be protected by coercion, but could be made to obey through kind advice and assigning certain duties to them. These duties are:
There is duty and discipline for everyone. Following it is essential. The entire world is controlled by Truth. If Truth is violated, everything will become perverse. The sea does not cross its limits due to control of Truth. If not, it can drown the earth in one day. Has anybody fixed its boundary? Can it ever be done? Hence, only if everyone is sincere to Truth and follows the rules of Sastras, it will rain at the appropriate time; wind will blow at the appropriate time; truth will develop and the nation will prosper. If one is violated, everything will go haywire and the world will degenerate. Even if we perform every day activities like snanam, soucham, Sandhyavandanam, Japa etc., not doing them in time and not doing properly and doing as if under pressure and without sincerity will not bear fruit. Whatever we do, there will be benefit only if we do it with devotion and sincerity. As per the saying ‘Whatever you do, do it perfectly’, we should do actions as per the methods laid down in Sastras. Though there are rules on the number of times a certain act is to be performed by dvijas, instead of doing it improperly and erroneously in thousands of numbers, it is far better to do it only ten times, but properly. Just as a guest who comes to our home will be displeased if we serve him different dishes, but without kindness and with disgust, Iswara too will show his grace in the same way in response to acts done without sincerity. The adage says: ‘Sastraya cha sukhaya cha’. Sastras are there to give us comfort, not to make us miserable; but while looking at action as per Sastras and doing it, it will appear tough. The castor oil is unpalatable while consuming, but everyone knows how much good it does to the health once it is taken. Similarly getting up before 4 nazhigas (1 hr, 36 min) prior to sunrise and doing karmas like snanam, soucham, Sandhyavandanam, Japa, Homam, Pooja etc. as prescribed even in winter time will certainly appear tough at the beginning. Getting up by 7 or 8 a.m. long after sunrise and drinking hot coffee without snanam, Sandhya etc. will no doubt be joyous. But if one looks at tejas (brilliance) etc., it will be clear as to who is indeed comfortable.
Hence everyone should as far as possible attempt to perform all actions in accordance with rules of Sastras. On matters which we are not aware of, we should find out from those who know and act properly. We should not conclude that what we do is correct. If we find something as correct, we should investigate it in consultation with the knowledgeable. Let us progress in the grace of sidelong glance of Sarveswara by being devoted to him for ever.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
Click here to access the Tamil version of this article from this website